Via Ezra Klein, why the nation has to get serious, and fast, about real healthcare reform (and that doesn't include Medicare vouchers or Medicaid block grants). The Kaiser Family Foundation has a new report comparing healthcare costs—and the growth of those costs—in the U.S. and selected OECD countries. The bottom line:
It is reasonably well known that the United States spends more per capita on health care than other countries. What may be less well known is that the United States still has one of the highest growth rates in health care spending. Health care spending around the world is generally rising faster than overall economic growth, so almost all countries have seen health care spending increase as a percentage of their gross domestic product (GDP) over time. In the United States, which has both a high level of health spending per capita and a relatively high rate of real growth in spending, the share of GDP devoted to health care spending grew from 9% of GDP in 1980 to 16% of GDP in 2008. This 7 percentage-point increase in health spending as a share of GDP is one of the largest across the OECD.
Ezra reiterates what exactly that means: "[U.S] spending has been growing much faster than everyone else’s, and is now so high that our government spends more on health care than the governments of countries with single-payer systems—and that’s true even though most of our health-care spending is private!" He pulls three graphs to illustrate.
Here’s what we spend vs. what everyone else spends:
And here’s the growth in that spending over time. Note that in the 1970s, we were approximately equal to the rest of the world. It’s really in the ’80s and ’90s that the gap between us and everyone else opened up:
...But perhaps the piece de resistance is this chart, showing the percentage of gross domestic product that countries spend on private and public health-care expenditures. The United States spends more through the government than — deep breath — Japan, Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Canada or Switzerland:
In other words, we’re spending more on government-provided health care than most countries where government-provided health care is pretty much all there is.
And we all know that outcomes are not matching expenditures. In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the U.S. 37th in the world. In 2006, "the United States was number 1 in terms of health care spending per capita but ranked 39th for infant mortality, 43rd for adult female mortality, 42nd for adult male mortality, and 36th for life expectancy."
That picture isn't improving, and won't if the only solution our lawmakers can come up with is slashing healthcare services to the most vulnerable populations.